A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that former President Donald Trump does not have presidential immunity from prosecution of alleged criminal acts relating to 2020 election interference.
The appeal was made to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by the Trump team in connection to special counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
“We have balanced former President Trump’s asserted interests in executive immunity against the vital public interests that favor allowing this prosecution to proceed,” the three-judge panel opinion said.
“We conclude that ‘[c]oncerns of public policy, especially as illuminated by our history and the structure of our government’ compel the rejection of his claim of immunity in this case,” the panel said, upholding a trial judge’s earlier ruling.
The panel is composed of two judges appointed by Democrats and one appointed by a Republican.
The former president is expected to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is part of a larger effort to slow down Smith’s case against the former president.
Smith wants the trial to move ahead as soon as possible, seemingly trying to avoid the possible outcome of Trump — the Republican nominee frontrunner — winning the 2024 election.
The U.S. Supreme Court could in theory reject to hear the question on immunity and the appeals court’s decision would stand. But if the high court does take up the case, the decision could derail Smith’s case or delay it past the 2024 election.
Following the appeal decision, legal analyst and attorney Jonathan Turley emphasized to Fox News that the Supreme Court doesn’t share the same “urgency” as Smith, regarding the case.
“The interesting dynamic about this case is that Jack Smith has been telling every court that ‘it’s absolutely urgent that we move this trial forward’ and he made it clear that he wants this president tried and convicted before the election,” Turley said, Newsweek reported. “The Supreme Court clearly didn’t share that urgency, it refused to do that, and so it’s not clear they’re gonna feel even greater urgency now.”
In theory, if Trump won the White House, the Department of Justice could dismiss the charges, which Trump has argued are part of a “witch-hunt” and clear political targeting. Or, as president, he could pardon himself.